By Francis Ogwo
A special training was conducted by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Saturday on search and rescue training for some of its personnel towards equipping them with vital combat skills.
According to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, the training exercise tagged “Taimako Yazo” was conducted on the Kaduna-Abuja expressway.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, while addressing participants said no military operation is successful without personnel readiness
He recalled the series of counter-terrorism exercises conducted in Kaduna, Kano, Niger and Osun stressing that the core objective of all of these training was to develop the capacity of its Special Operations Force towards being efficient in the country’s fight against crime and other vices.
Abubakar said: “The overall desire is to ensure that our personnel are trained and equipped to maintain a very high level of combat readiness and operational effectiveness.
“This aspiration no doubt is in tandem with our yearning to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of airpower, in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
“Accordingly, today’s exercise which is based on a Combat Search and Rescue situation is designed to exercise the capacity of our personnel to rescue downed aircrew who have had to reject or abandon their aircraft in emergencies.
“The importance of training to a fighting force like the NAF cannot be overemphasised as regular purposeful training remains the cornerstone of military combat readiness,” he added.
Speaking further Abubakar said the physical fitness of the personnel was key towards execution of rescue missions.
“It is in the realisation of this that the NAF ensures that its personnel are mentally alert and physically fit at all times through regular training and exercises to ensure that we remain continually willing, able and ready to defend the nation,” he said.
Abubakar added that even with today’s modern weapon systems, it is the personnel with competence that would make the difference in any current or future conflict situations.
“This philosophy has been incorporated into the NAF policies and regulations to ensure that personnel maintain a high level of combat readiness that would ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the conduct of a wide spectrum of military operations.
“Accordingly, in the quest to achieve professionalism, service members are subjected to excruciatingly difficult training procedures and exposures to various terrain conditions to enable them to achieve and maintain a high level of combat effectiveness.
“This, no doubt, will help our personnel perform at the highest standards, throughout their career.
“By organising this exercise we are also mindful of the need to sustain professionalism among our personnel,” he said.
Abubakar expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his support for the growth and development of the NAF while reassuring Nigerians that the NAF remained fully committed to the successful execution of its constitutional roles and would continue to meet its statutory responsibility of defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
Earlier, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), NAF Special Operations Command, AVM Charles Ohwo, said that the objective of the exercise was to rehearse the tactics and doctrine.
He added that it was also to create a synergy amongst first responders for effective combat search and rescue operations of downed aircrew or other NAF personnel.
The AOC said that the ability to rescue crew in a hostile environment was particularly important, as it could be adapted in anti-kidnapping operations.
This, according to him, was recently used by the NAF in concert with other security agencies in the rescue of the 344 boys of the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
Reports revealed that this exercise was the fifth of its combat readiness training since 2019.
Recall that the country has been plagued with crime and criminality especially kidnapping along the country’s major highways and cities.
This according to the Air Force Chief must be fought head-on in 2021.